O Me of Little Faith

O Me of Little Faith


Two Wildly Different Reviews of Ted Haggard’s Church

posted by Jason Boyett

In the wake of my two Ted Haggard posts a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been hearing from a number of Colorado people with updates to the story. I don’t want this to become a Ted Haggard watchblog — those already exist, I’m sure — but I still think the discussion about appearances, grace, and pastoral accountability is one the Church should be having.

Why should we be having it? Because the same story is playing out, but Christians seem to be observing it from two very different perspectives.

Recently on twitter I was alerted to two “reviews” of St. James Church, the new church Haggard has started in Colorado Springs. One review is overwhelmingly positive. The other is overwhelmingly negative.

Positive: Here’s blogger Darrell Creswell about a visit on June 20:

I decided to go visit Ted Haggard, and St. James this Sunday without
forming any preconceived opinions about it, and write about my
experience there honestly and openly…

…As the service was about to start, I watched Ted as he greeted people,
shaking their hands as they entered the barn for the service. He was
jovial and very warm, laughing and enjoying the fellowship with his new
congregation. There was also an excitement, almost with a twinge of
nervousness, like that of a teenager on prom night. He was very much at
ease seeming very comfortable in his own skin. I was taken in by the
humility that seemed to encompass his personality, a sincere humility
that seems genuine and can only come by God working in one’s life.

…Ted proclaimed St. James to be a church with a “No Stones Environment,”
in reference to our Lord’s words, “Let He Who is Without Sin
Cast the First Stone.” He went on to share that…we as believers should offer support and encouragement, rather than condemnation to those who struggle to overcome various
issues in their walk with Christ. The Body of Christ many times executes
judgment instead of encouragement for those in need he shared…It is wrong and in
contradiction to the Word of God to judge your brother, we are to uplift
and pray for our fellow believers and even non-believers alike that the
Spirit might work in their lives and Christ might be glorified. It is
our role to encourage, Pastor Haggard said, and God’s role to judge. He
went on to say that many times Christians use the scriptures to judge
and hate, when we should use the scriptures to encourage.

…All in all it was a great service, I left feeling I had been fed, both
by the message and by my interaction with the Body of Christ. In
finishing let me urge you to pray that the Lord will be glorified in all
that is done at St. James.

Negative: Contrast that review with one from a fellow Colorado blogger who goes by the handle “3Dsound”:

I was struck by how readily those in attendance went along with Ted.
They knew all the words to the songs (although my daughter told me the
songs are standards at the Fort Collins megachurch, which she’s attended
with her mother). They laughed at Ted’s jokes. They wrapped Ted in the
presence of followers. They gave Gayle a standing ovation. They
applauded Jesus, on cue.

When I turned around, I saw the principals from Long Pond Media were
signaling Ted on how to pace the service. My ex said they did so
throughout. They directed Ted, for example, on whom to invite to the
front to give a testimony.

…Given the congregation’s robotic enthusiasm for Ted and the directorial
role played by Long Pond Media, I felt like I was participating in the
filming of an infomercial, rather than attending church. There wasn’t
anything spiritual about the event – or even all that church-like. It
was programmed and calculated, and those in attendance went along with
it.

Fine. Ted invited a bunch of people to his house, so he could film an
infomercial promoting his “resurrection.” We knew (or should have known)
that that was his plan, when we read the notice posted at his front gate about Long Pond
filming the event.

It should be noted that these two bloggers attended different services. Creswell seems to have gone to a June 20 worship service. 3Dsound attended the June 6 “launch party.” But I’d be surprised if the two services were that different from each other.

If you have time, it’s worth reading both reviews in full.

So what do we make of this? Obviously, Ted Haggard remains a divisive figure, and the perspective of the reviewers plays a major role. Not knowing either of these bloggers, it seems that Creswell was predisposed to be more gracious to Ted and 3Dsound not so much. 3Dsound couldn’t get past the involvement of Haggard’s documentary team. Creswell seemed not to have noticed them much at all. One was inspired by the testimonies given. The other smelled media manipulation.

Beauty, of course, is in the eye of the beholder. What do you make of these two reviews?

 



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Paul Angone

posted June 28, 2010 at 1:44 pm


Really interesting dichotomy here Jason in regards to St. James. I can definitely see why and how this is being played out the way it is, if both these reviews were in fact accurate. While Ted Haggard’s new church is a “no stones allowed” kind of place, I wonder how much pressure he must feel to do things perfectly thus the need for consulting in-service.
I wonder if Teds new authenticity and openness is going to be regulated by what is “socially acceptable authenticity” by the guy making gestures in the back. Scripted authenticity seems to be quite the oxymoron, but hey there’s about 1,342 other churches doing pretty much the same thing.



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bondChristian

posted June 28, 2010 at 1:49 pm


I love the double sided-perspective. I’m not a big fan of reading one person trying to give a balanced opinion. There’s a place for that (that’s probably the position most of us should take on many issues). But when it comes to understanding them, I’d rather hear from two totally opposite positions from two totally different people.
Thank you for sharing. I wish there were more of these kinds of reviews collected in one post.
-Marshall Jones Jr.



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Greg C.

posted June 28, 2010 at 3:30 pm


Are we surprised that the media was there to cover it? This blog alone proves that it is worth following — at least deemed worthy by Jason and his readers (including ME). Our minds want to know how it’s all going down. We can’t begin to fathom how someone like Haggard could come back into ministry and yet, why wouldn’t we want him to???
“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
” ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ (Luke 15:11-32)
I don’t always get this, but I pray that it’s extended to me when needed.
Thanks for making us think through this.
-Greg Corona



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Randall Taylor

posted June 28, 2010 at 4:42 pm


I have a few points of clarification to make. Long Pond Media was at the launch party because they were considering doing a DOCUMENTARY on the second half of Ted and Gayle’s story. As an eyewitness to the events I can tell you quite plainly that nothing was “staged”. These were real people and real relationships some of them going back decades. Those of us in attendance (minus one or two bloggers) are actual friends of the Haggard’s and wanted to celebrate the launch of a new church. . . really. . . it’s nothing more complicated than that :)



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Emma

posted June 28, 2010 at 4:49 pm


Just wanted to give a shout out. . . I was at the launch party. It was a good time. For those of us who have known Ted and Gayle for years back in the days of New Life, it was a reunion and a homecoming.



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Nopharaseesallowed

posted June 28, 2010 at 4:52 pm


Ted has a church that the media wants to report on. Some people are jealous because they are not doing anything worthy for the gospel to talk about. The media wants to talk about the gospel?? Oh. . my, that’s just horrible LOL!



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homegrown

posted June 28, 2010 at 4:57 pm


Agreed with Mr. no pharasee. What’s so bad about the gospel being displayed in the press? I wish the news would report more stories like Mr. Haggard. So he is helping an addict, and there is a camera? So what? People in the religious institutional church always get their panties in a twist when somebody who doesn’t sing their tune gets attention. . . They did it to Jesus too.
Y



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Saskia

posted June 29, 2010 at 4:44 am


Wow, are we now comparing Jesus and Ted Haggard? I’m hesitant to compare anyone to Jesus in that way.
For the record, I don’t really have a problem with Ted Haggard. His theology is not my theology, I wouldn’t feel at home at his services (just as I wouldn’t feel at home at any (American) evangelical service) but that’s why the Reformation happened, so we could all pick and choose what kind of church we want to attend ;-) (yes, that is a joke.)



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Mike Noss

posted June 29, 2010 at 5:21 pm


Question: 1) Is Ted being paid by Long Pond Media? 2) Is it true that the planting of this church is being filmed as a reality show?



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Jason Boyett

posted June 29, 2010 at 5:39 pm


Mike:
1. I don’t know.
2. Yes. From what I can tell, I believe this to be true.



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